Working Wise: virtual job interviews

Dear Working Wise: I have a job interview coming up for a position in another city, but the interview is going to be via videoconference. Do you have any tips? — Signed Eager Job Seeker

Dear Eager: More Employers are turning to telephone and video interviews to screen and recruit candidates located outside their communities.

These interview methods are quite different from each other, and offer unique opportunities and challenges.

You can’t see or be seen by the interviewer during telephone interviews. This means you can use notes to help you summarize your most relevant skills, but you only have your words and tone of voice to market yourself to the interviewers.

In video interviews, you can see and been seen plus you have some control over what the interviewers see. You can use facial expressions to help make a connection with the interviewers, but it may be difficult to use prepared notes and still maintain eye contact with the interviewers.

Virtual interviews can seem more causal than in-person interviews, but it’s important that you take them as seriously as you would if you were sitting in the employer’s office.

Telephone interviews:

l Practice – Ask a friend to role play the interview with you. Rehearse your answers to help keep them brief and clear.

l Confirm the time of the interview and the telephone number you want the employer to use.

l Plan to have the interview in a quiet room away from distractions and noise.

l Use a land line instead of a cell phone to reduce the likelihood of technical issues and turn call waiting off.

l Keep your resumé, a list of your accomplishments, and a pen nearby for taking notes.

l Give the interviewer your full attention. Don’t drink, smoke or eat.

l Dress as you would for an in-person interview. It will make you feel more confident.

l Smile. it will help you relax and help boost your confidence.

Video interviews:

l Choose the best technology for the job. Pick the one you trust and are comfortable with. Interviews are stressful enough without worrying about technical bugs.

l Consider what the interviewer will see. They should be able to see you from about the waist up. They should not be able to see anything messy, personal or unusual that could distract their attention from what an excellent candidate you are for the job.

l Choose a room that is clean and uncluttered, preferably with a plain wall as your backdrop. Use ample soft lighting so they can see you and not any harsh glares or shadows.

l Test the equipment an hour before the start time to make sure it’s working.

l Turn off any apps, notifications, screen savers or software that could interrupt the interview.

l Maintain eye contact. Look directly at the camera instead of your screen or your notes.

l Pause before speaking. A weak connection can cause a minor time delay. Make sure the interviewer is completely finished speaking before you start.

For more tips, read the How to Shine in a Virtual Interview article on the alis website at

Do you have a work-related question? Send your questions to Working Wise, at Charles Stracheyis a manager with Alberta Community and Social Services.

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